By Dr. James Dobson
Positive thinking can be a good thing. People who are naturally upbeat are more pleasant to be around and they seem to get so much more out of life. They are also more productive than those who are routinely “down” and discouraged. But negative thinking has its advantages, too. It is negative thinking that leads me to buckle my seat belt when I get in a car. I might be hurt in a collision if I don’t strap myself in. It’s negative thinking that causes me to buy life insurance to protect my family. I could die suddenly and leave my loved ones in financial difficulty. It’s negative thinking that encourages me to avoid behavior that could be addictive—such as using illicit drugs, alcohol, or pornography. There are millions of other examples of what might be called “beneficial negatives.” The bottom line is that there is power in any kind of legitimate thinking. Indeed, if a person only allows himself to read or hear positive messages, he will have to skip over at least half of the Scriptures. Jesus said some of the most profoundly negative words that have ever been uttered, including the prospect of unregenerate people entering eternity without God. Yet His message to a lost and dying world is called the gospel, meaning “good news.”
From the discussion of the universal problem...fatigue and time pressure...what related concepts do wives most wish their husbands understood? It is my belief that feminine depression associated with the hustle and bustle of living could be reduced significantly if men comprehended and accepted the three ideas which follow:
I was invited a few years ago to take a three-day whitewater rafting trip down the Rogue River in Oregon. A friend and experienced rafter, Dr. Richard Hosley, said to me as we were preparing to launch the gear, "One thing you'll soon learn is that the river is always boss." I didn't know what he meant then, but three days later I understood that principle very clearly.
What is it like to experience parental burnout? According to Procaccini and Kiefaber, it occurs in five progressive stages, each more stressful than the ones before. The first can be called the "Gung-Ho" stage, which has been described in preceding paragraphs. It may actually begin with the discovery of pregnancy and continue for several years. Very subtly, then, parents can move from the first to the second stage of burnout, which is characterized by persistent doubts. They know something is definitely wrong at this point, but may fail to realize how rapidly they are losing altitude. They are frequently irritated by the children and find themselves screaming on occasions. Quite often they feel drained and fatigued. A full range of psychosomatic symptoms may come and go, including back and neck aches, upset stomach, ulcers and colitis, hypertension, headaches, diarrhea and constipation. Still, the individual may wonder, "Why do I feel this way?" Not long ago I received a classic letter from a father in the second stage of parental burn-out. This is what he wrote (emphasis mine):
Something changes the moment one of the two romantic partners begins to fear that the other may be slipping away. He complains about who she was with last night and whines about not being given enough attention. He parks his car near her house at night and spies on who's coming and going. He blows up frequently and makes impossible demands. These signs of desperation quickly snuff out a romantic spark before it can grow into a flame of love. The key issue to understand here is the importance of respect in romantic affairs. It is the fuel that feeds the fire.
What causes normal, intelligent people to act in irrational ways when facing a perceived danger or threat? Why do so many of us "go to pieces" when the chips are down? This tendency to panic results from the malfunction of a system known as the "fight-or-flight" mechanism. That is a neurochemical process designed to prepare us for action whenever we face an immediate crisis. When we are frightened or stressed, adrenaline and other hormones are released that put our entire bodies on an alarm-reaction status. Our blood pressure is elevated, we become stronger and more alert, the pupils of our eyes dilate to gather more light, etc.
Millions of people acknowledge today that they do not know the meaning of life. Indeed, sociologists tell us that a desperate search for spiritual truth is underway throughout Western cultures. Baby boomers have been seeking something to believe in for almost three decades. In the 1970s, they were involved in a quest that came to be known as "the discovery of personhood." It motivated some of them to participate in nude counseling, transcendental meditation, reincarnation and other Eastern mysticism, ESP, astrology, psychoanalysis, therapeutic massage, far-out theologies, and a seminar on the self called EST.
Many women feel that the job of “mom” is boring and monotonous—and they are right! But so is practically every other occupation. I once stayed in a hotel next to the room of a famous cellist. I could hear him through the walls (believe me!) as he practiced hour after hour. He did not play beautiful symphonic renditions; he repeated scales over and over. As the cellist strolled onstage that evening, I’m sure many in the audience thought, "What a glamorous life!" Some glamour. He spent the entire day alone in his hotel room.
By Shirley Dobson
My mother was a very strong woman when she was young. It was only through her wisdom and devotion that I survived the emotional pressures of my early childhood. To keep her family fed, Mom found a job at a fish cannery. She was required to work unpredictable hours; many times she would be called at three or four in the morning. I marveled at her ability to hold a job and do the shopping, cooking, housekeeping, and laundry under such stressful circumstances.
What you teach your kids in the early years is critical. Researcher George Barna confirmed what we have known— that it becomes progressively more difficult to influence children spiritually as they grow older. The data shows that if a person does not accept Jesus Christ as Savior before the age of fourteen, the likelihood of ever doing so is slim. Here are his disturbing findings:
I ask parents again: What will be your legacy on behalf of those you love? Will you help them build a foundation of faith that will sustain them through the trials of life and take them into the better world beyond? Will they be there to greet you and the rest of your family and Christian friends on the other side?
I wish it were possible for me to emphasize just how critical this masculine understanding is to family stability. Sociologist George Gilder said it best in his excellent book, Sexual Suicide. He makes it clear that single men (as a class) are often a threat to society. Until they accept the responsibility for families, their sexual aggression is largely unbridled and potentially destructive. He writes:
Without wanting to heap guilt on the heads of my masculine readers, I must say that too many fathers only sleep at their homes. And as a result, they have totally abdicated their responsibilities for leadership and influence in the lives of their children.
In a study conducted by Dr. Blake Bowden of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center, 527 teenagers were surveyed to learn what family and lifestyle characteristics were related to mental health and adjustment. What they observed, is that adolescents whose parents ate dinner with them five times per week or more were the least likely to be on drugs, to be depressed, or to be in trouble with the law. They were also more likely to be doing well in school and to be surrounded by a supportive circle of friends. The benefit was seen even for families that didn’t eat together at home. Those who met at fast-food restaurants had the same result. By contrast, the more poorly adjusted teens had parents who ate with them only three evenings per week or less.
The average pedophile abuses 150 children in the course of a lifetime. Each sexual exploitation lasts for seven years, typically, before the truth comes to light. Boys and girls are often too intimidated to call for help. Don't give a child abuser a shot at your kids.
Have you ever set yourself or others on fire with sparks spraying from your tongue? More important, have you ever set a child’s spirit on fire with anger? All of us have made that costly mistake. We knew we had blundered the moment the comment flew out of our mouths, but it was too late. If we tried for a hundred years, we couldn’t take back a single remark.
Though the proverbs are generally and usually true, occasional exceptions may be noted. This may be because of the self-will or deliberate disobedience of an individual who chooses to go his own way--the way of folly instead of the way of wisdom. For that he is held responsible.
Suppose that one partner, the husband, begins to show signs of disinterest in his wife. Let's say that their sex life has been rather dull lately, and the sense of emotional togetherness is more of a memory than a reality. (The decline of a marriage is rarely brought by a blowout; it's usually a slow leak.) Then the relationship reaches a low point and the husband consistently treats his wife rudely and disrespectfully in public, pulling behind a wall of silence when they are home. These are symptoms of a condition which I call "the trapped syndrome".
The culture is at war with parents for the hearts and minds of their children. I don’t need to describe this battle because you see it, too. Parents in decades past would not have believed what was about to happen to the institution of the family. I am not sure many of us understand it, either.
By Dr. James Dobson
He [the father] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) --1 TIMOTHY 3:4-5
Justice In The Home
Never Give Up
"Above All Else"
The Influence of Friends
From Mourning to Morning
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Connect With Dr. James Dobson
Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
How to Raise a Brat
A Message To Husbands and Wives
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